Come Sail Away with Styx to Jones Beach on Aug. 12


On August 12th, the legendary rock band, Styx with Don Felder (The Eagles) and featuring blues guitarist, Joe Bonamassa, arrives at Jones Beach for what promises to be a highlight of the summer concert season at the beach.

Styx soared into our consciousness in 1972 with its self-titled debut album.

Since then, Styx has scored one Double Platinum and three Triple Platinum albums.

Their single, Show Me the Way, from Cornerstone, hit No. 3 on the Hot 100 and gave them the distinction of being only one of a few musical acts to have top 10 singles in three decades.

They gained international recognition with the single Babe hitting No. 2 on the Billboard 200 winning the band a People’s Choice Award for Best New Song in 1980 and a nomination for “Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group” at the Grammy Awards that same year.

In 2017, they released their sixteenth studio album, The Mission, and followed that up with Crash of the Crown, both charted on the US Billboard 200.

Styx has seen many incarnations through the years.

The bandmates on this 2023 tour are James “JY” Young, Tommy Shaw, Chuck Panozzo, Todd Sucherman, Ricky Phillips Will Evankovich and Lawrence Gowan, with powerhouse vocals and spinning piano, has been with the band since 1999.

Gowan stopped to talk before heading to a concert on their current tour.

How does it feel to look out at the audience and see generations of fans enjoying Styx’s music?

Styx is in its 52nd year now and I’ve been in the band 25 years. We’ve been so fortunate to withstand over half a century of existence in a rock band. We play 100 shows a year and to see how audiences embrace rock and Styx, how it’s been part of the track of their lives, is remarkable. At tonight’s show, we’ll end with a few thousand people on their feet, big smiles on their faces, their arms in the air wanting more and that’s just a wonderful way to see how music unites people of all ages. 

In concert, how do you integrate the new songs with classic Styx?

Back in 2017 when we put out The Mission, we decided it’s really difficult when you’ve got such a storied library of songs to choose from. In every concert, they’re definitely going to hear certain songs that are in every Styx show, Renegade, Come Sail Away, Grand illusion, Lady, but with The Mission, we had one little two-minute song that immediately segued into a classic so we began to bookend them together. It’s amazing to see just how receptive audiences are to new material as long as it’s intrinsically linked with something from the classic era and that’s really what we’ve attempted to do.

What is your favorite Styx song?

Renegade is probably my favorite because wherever we’ve played around the world, I’ve seen audiences that are all different at first, but by the end of the show, that’s usually when we’re playing Renegade, it’s so remarkable how music unites people. An American audience and an English audience, they’re so identical by the end of the show. I get to observe that from the stage because I don’t have to sing the lead on that song, so that’s why I say Renegade.

When thinking about playing the giant, outdoor Jones Beach Amphitheater, what comes to mind?

First of all, it’s New York, so our expectations are high that it’s going to be a great night and we’ve played in every kind of weather. At Jones Beach over the years, we played in torrential rainstorms, blistering heat and sunshine. The wall of people I love. You look up at this great height and beyond and all you see is sky. It’s a great setting. At Jones Beach, over the years even in bad weather, we’ve had some of the most memorable shows because it’s that New York audience, so it’s the center of the universe as far as we’re concerned in the rock world and when we get to play there, it’s a night that pivots around the rest of the year. It’s our star banner show.

You had a successful solo career in Canada, did it take much convincing before accepting the offer to join Styx?

14 years before joining Styx I had this long solo career, six albums and multi-platinum records. I just put out a live album and my greatest hits record when they called. At that point, the disappointment in my career was that I never got my records released in the United States despite them being on Columbia records. I did a couple of shows with Styx in 1997 and that’s when we came into each other’s orbit. I really was knocked out with the band. Tommy Shaw, after the first night we did together in Montreal, said you’re the only act that ever got an encore who played before Styx and he wanted to do more shows. In 1998, I played at the opening of Princess Diana’s memorial. Todd Zuckerman, the drummer from Styx, was there. When I got a call from “JY” saying we’d like you to join the band, I thought the universe was telling me something. The moment we sang together it just fit. In the first year, I tried to balance my solo career with the band, but I realized I’m gonna burn myself out. So, I put my solo stuff on the shelf until 2010. Now, I do about 20 solo shows a year and 100 Styx shows so it’s become a nice balance.

Do you enjoy being on the road in what seems like a packed tour schedule?

The thing that wears down a lot of musicians is they don’t enjoy traveling. It’s always a fresh adventure for me. We’re in Raleigh right now. I just walked around the town this morning and I drank in this different place where we’re going to play a concert tonight. I let the fabric of where I’m traveling get into my blood. That will feed into the show tonight and, in some way, it will feel like we are all connected here.

Is another album in the works and if so, when will it drop?

Yes, part of the lifeblood of a band is coming up with new things. there’s always something fresh that we’re cobbling away. What keeps the excitement for us is always creating something new, then recording it. The new keeps us excited musically.

What do you see as your next road left untraveled with Styx as well as in your solo career?

I love it when newer people are coming into the fold who love the music and that casts the net wider. There are also all kinds of opportunities that come up with where songs are placed on the Internet or in movies broadening the horizon of who will enjoy the band in the future. All of that inspires us to want to keep making music. We have this unified intention that the best version of this band is going to be onstage at 8:00. We want to make sure that what happens at each concert is mind-blowing.

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(Photo: Jones Beach Facebook, @JonesBeachNewYork)